Blood samples banked during the course of clinical trials and other research could serve as a valuable source of stem cells, according to a study published yesterday (June 27) in Blood. Researchers at Cellular Dynamics International (CDI), a Wisconsin-based biotech founded by stem cell biologist James Thomson, demonstrate a methodology for the creation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from small samples of stored blood. They also show that those iPSCs can differentiate into tissues of all three germ layers in the body, including heart, neural, and liver cells.
Importantly, the differentiated cells do not carry a genetic modification that is induced when the blood is initially stored. Researchers often use an Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) to introduce a genetic modification that keeps blood viable through freezing and thawing. But after inducing the blood cells to revert to pluripotent state, the genetic modification was lost.
The advance could allow researchers to obtain blood samples from patients with a wide variety of diseases, and create stem cell models for those disorders, CDI Chief Technology Officer Nick Seay said in a press release. “Our ability to take samples of banked blood and create EBV-free iPSCs, and use that material to manufacture cells in the quantity, quality and purity required for research, is an important step forward in the study of human biology and understanding the promise of regenerative medicine.”